By Peter Biggins
Charley Christenson contributed to this family history.
Family passport Remembrancer About PetersPioneers Contacts Home Page
My grandmother Rose Viola Smith was born May 23, 1882, in Grand Rapids, Michigan, to Cris and Christine Koch Smith. That same day, her aunt Rosa Wilhelmina Smith married Charles Hauser.
In 1887, when Rose was only five years old, her mother Christine Koch Smith died. In 1893, Rose's father Cris moved to Chicago to further his musical career. Rose stayed in Grand Rapids and was raised by her father's sister, Rosa and husband Charles Hauser. Rose called them Tante and Uncle Charlie.
Before moving to Chicago, Rose's father Cris was remarried to Uncle Charlie's sister Mary Hauser. They had a son Crescenz, who also stayed in Grand Rapids and was raised by Tante and Uncle Charlie.
In January 2014, Charley Christensen, a grandson of Crescenz gave me the photo above and a Remembrancer for a trip taken by Tante and Uncle Charlie in 1909.
In February 1909, Tante and Uncle Charlie, both age 54, were empty nesters. Charlie had been a building contractor in Grand Rapids for 19 years. Their niece Rose was 27 and had been married for two years, and their nephew Crescenz was 19. They decided to take a vacation to New York City and the Caribbbean.
Four days before the trip, Uncle Charlie applied for a passport for the two of them that was to be delivered to them at their hotel in New York. The passport application says Uncle Charlie was 5 feet 8-1/2 inches tall and had blue eyes.
The passport notary was William A. Shinkman. Shinkman was an insurance and estate broker in Grand Rrapids. He later became the author of a Chess Primer for the game company founded by William F. Drueke. Shinkman, nicknamed “the Wizard of Grand Rapids,” was a talented chess problemist and influential in the theoretical development of chess puzzles.
Monday, February 22. Tante and Uncle Charlie boarded the New York Central railroad in Grand Rapids at 11:10 am. The route was from Grand Rapids to Jackson and Detroit, Michigan; then through southern Ontario to Buffalo, Syracuse, and Albany, New York; then south to New York City.
Tuesday, February 23. They arrived in New York City at 9:15 am at the old Grand Central Station on 42nd street in New York City. The present-day terminal was under construction from 1904 to 1914. The high temperature in New York on February 23 was 47 degrees.
Also arriving in New York on February 23 was president-elect William Howard Taft (1857-1930), who arrived at noon and stayed at the home of his brother Henry W. Taft at 36 West 48th Street. He was in town to select a new Secretary of the Treasury. The presidential party arrived by automobile from Philadelphia and crossed the Hudson River on the 23rd Street ferry from Jersey City. He selected Franklin MacVeagh (1837-1943) of Chicago. Taft was still working on his inaugural address for March 4.
Tante and Uncle Charlie stayed at the Grand Union Hotel, room 262. The hotel was across from Grand Central Termnal from 1872 to 1914. The area is now called Pershing Square, and it is occupied by the Pershing Square Building at 100 East 42nd street.
The only subway in 1909 was what is now called the IRT Lexington Avenue Subway, It had been in operation for four years from Grand Central to Lower Manhattan. In addition, there were a number of trolleys and els (elevated railroads) that had been in existence since the 1870s. The New York Taxicab Company was started in 1907. By 1908, it had 700 gasoline-powered taxicabs with fare meters, all painted yellow.
That afternoon Tante and Uncle Charlie went to The Battery at the tip of Manhattan and visited Castle Garden, site of the New York Aquarium from 1896 to 1941. From 1824 to 1850, Castle Garden was an entertainment center, which saw the likes of Jenny Lind. From 1855 to 1890, Castle Garden was America's first official immigration center. Uncle Charlie's father Hubert and his parents emigrated from Rottweil in the Kingdom of Württemberg to New York in 1849, before Castle Garden served as an immigration center.
After Castle Garden, they went to Broadway and 5th Avenue, the site of Madison Square Park and, from 1890 to 1925, Madison Square Garden. Madison Square Garden was designed by Sanford White. In 1905, White was mudered in the rooftop restaurant by Harry K. Thaw, husband of Evelyn Nesbit.
In the evening, they went to the Hippodrome Theatre on 6th avenue between 43rd and 44th streets in the evening. Showing at 8:00 were three spectacles, of which Billboard said:
Wednesday, February 24. Tante and Uncle Charlie went to the headquarters of the publishing house of Harper & Brothers, at 331 Pearl Street, facing Franklin Square in Lower Manhattan (about where the Manhattan approach to the Brooklyn Bridge lies today. There they visited with A. E. Welde. From there, they went to the Hamburg Amerian office at 41-45 Broadway. They had lunch at the Hofbrau House, where they had eaten dinner the night before.
Tante and Uncle Charlie had lunch at the Hofbrau House at Broadway and 30th street. The quaintly timbered restaurant was opened by August Janssen in 1898. "Janssen wants to see you" was their motto.
That afternoon, they went to Wanamaker's at Broadway and 8th street. The John Wanamaker store was built in 1906. The architect was Daniel Burnham. It was built just south of the 1862 cast iron A.T. Stewart store which Wanamaker had acquired in 1898.
In the evening, they visited Rosa's brother Cris, 56, and son Karl, 13, in Brooklyn. Mary Hauser, brother of Charles and second wife of Cris, had died in 1907.
Thursday, February 25. The Remembrancer has a very brief entry for this day: "Rained."
Friday, February 26. Tante and Uncle Charlie went to Hoboken and boarded the S.S. Oceana. The ship was built in 1890 in Dumbarton, Scotland, and purchased in 1905 by the Hamburg American Line for luxury service between New York and Jamaica. Rosa got sea sick, but Charles was fine. One night they left their porthole open and a wave came in and drenched Rosa. They played Shuffleboard on the ship.
Saturday, February 27. On their first full day at sea, the ship crossed the Gulf Stream, a powerful, warm, and swift Atlantic ocean current that originates at the tip of Florida, and follows the eastern coastlines of the United States and Newfoundland before crossing the Atlantic Ocean. The Gulf Stream flows north easterly at the rate of 4 to 5 miles per hour. At a point probably opposite of North Carolina, the ship crossed the Gulf Stream and headed south in the direction of the Virgin Islands.
Sunday, February 28. It was a warm day. They played shuffleboard in the morning and lounged in the afternoon. They left the port hole open when they went to bed and received a rude awakening at 5 am.
Monday, March 1. At 5 am a wave came in the open port hole. Poor Rosa got a good drenching. They took a salt water bath in more ways than one. After breakfast, they saw a flying fish.
Tuesday, March 2. After four days, Tante and Uncle Charlie finally saw land. The ship docked at St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands. The flight time from New York to Charlotte Amalie, St, Thomas, in 2014 is four hours. The flight distance is 1,635 miles. The nautical miles are 1,435. The average high temperature at this time of year is 86 degrees.
The Virgin Islands were named by Christopher Columbus on on his second voyage in 1493 for Saint Ursula and her virgin followers. In 1909, they were under Danish rule. The U.S. Consul was Christopher Payne, a Baptist minister. In 1917, the U.S. purchased St. Thomas from Denmark.
Wednesday, March 3. Tante and Uncle Charlie arrived in San Juan, Puerto Rico, early in the morning. Puerto Rico became a U.S. possession as a reults of the Spanish-American War in 1898. The 1898 Treaty of Paris ceded indefinite colonial authority over Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippine islands from Spain. In 1493, during his second voyage, Christopher Columbus landed in Puerto Rico. He named the island San Juan Bautista, in honor of John the Baptist.
Rosa bought a parasol for herself and a Panama hat for Uncle Charlie. In the afternoon, they took a trolley to Rio Piedras. The University of Puerto Rico was founded in Rio Piedras in 1903. In the evening, they went to a Plaza and heard a 36-piece orchestra. Perhaps it was the Plaza de Armas, the central square of San Juan since 1521.
Thursday, March 4.
Friday, March 5.
Saturday, March 6.
Sunday, March 7.
Monday, March 8.
Tuesday, March 9.
Family passport Remembrancer About PetersPioneers Contacts Home Page